Wales Environment Link (WEL), a coalition of 29 environmental NGOs in Wales, including Butterfly Conservation, is encouraging Assembly Members to vote to progress the Environment (Wales) Bill.

The Bill will create a new framework for the ‘sustainable management of natural resources’. The debate follows Stage 1 scrutiny by the Environment and Sustainability Committee which has resulted in a number of recommendations to improve the Bill.

Wales Environment Link (WEL) is a network of environmental, countryside and heritage non-governmental organisations in Wales, which includes Wildlife Trusts Wales and Butterfly Conservation.

Annie Smith, Chair of WEL’s Natural Resources Working Group, said: “WEL has welcomed the Environment Bill which introduces an ambitious new approach to managing the natural environment. The Committee’s recommendations would enable the Bill to provide a strong framework for the recovery of Wales’ biodiversity and we hope that the Welsh Government will take them on board.”

“Overall, we are pleased that the Environment and Sustainability Committee’s Stage 1 report stated support for the policy intent of the Bill, with a clear message that key changes are needed in order for this Bill to be effective.”

Russel Hobson, Head of Butterfly Conservation in Wales said: “Butterfly Conservation is part of the coalition that is supporting the new Wales Environment Bill, but we urge Welsh government to make the necessary amendment that will strengthen its biodiversity provisions and enable us to reverse the declines of butterflies and moths in Wales.”

WEL is working with the coalition and the Welsh Government on amendments that will ensure that the Bill will help to halt the loss of wildlife in Wales.

The Committee also recommends that any extension of the carrier bag levy to include ‘bags for life’ should direct proceeds to environmental charities and projects in Wales.

WEL would like this to apply to all new arrangements on single-use bags, to reflect the views of over 70% of respondents to the Committee’s questionnaire who agreed that proceeds should be used to protect the environment.

The Environment (Wales) Bill was laid by the Welsh Government on 11 May and Stage 1 scrutiny has been undertaken by the Environment and Sustainability Committee.

The Bill, which covers a range of issues including Natural Resources, Climate Change, and Waste, and the Committee’s Stage 1 report, can be viewed here